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CarComplaints.com Notes: The 2004 Ford Explorer one of our worst vehicles on record. "Avoid like the plague" is putting it lightly.

The 2002-2005 Explorer has a very well-established record of expensive transmission failure at under 100k miles. The Explorer has an enclosed transmission which is typically replaced with a rebuilt transmission at a cost of almost $3,000.

Another common problem for the 2002-2005 Explorer is wheel bearing failure at around 90k miles, with a typical repair bill of $500 to $1000 depending on how many wheel bearings failed.

Adding insult to injury, the 2002-2005 Explorer also has a massive problem with the rear panel cracking. While it's a minor annoyance compared to transmission failure, ironically the crack usually goes right through the Ford logo.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
74,899 miles
Total Complaints:
734 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (289 reports)
  2. not sure (198 reports)
  3. replace panel (105 reports)
  4. possible class action lawsuit (59 reports)
  5. call Ford motor company 1-800-241-3673 (27 reports)
  6. do not buy Ford again (25 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 37)

problem #734

Oct 132015

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,413 miles


click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window

I want this fixed by Ford. I'm a loyal Ford guy and I don't believe this should be my problem as Every Explorer of this year (2004) has this broken !It's funny, in April, a 30 year friend of mine said to me, wow I have never seen that back panel on a Explorer that was not cracked. So I have gone out of my way to be very careful when touching it and it made no difference, cracked anyway! Bullshit. James

- , Sparks, NV, USA

problem #733

Feb 012012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

In 2012 I noticed this annoying crack that went down through the center of the truck tailgate. I took the truck to Koons Ford body shop and they said that there wasn't a recall on the issue. The repair would cost a nice amount to repair. I have noticed a large number of Ford/Mercury SUV's with the crack down the center of the tailgate. Some almost in the same location. I feel that Ford/Mercury should repair the damage and apologize for deceiving people knowing that this damage is a factory defect.

- , Baltimore County, MD, USA

problem #732

Jun 032013

Explorer SPT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles

My husband bought this Explorer for my birthday and just image seeing your gift with a crack in it, not to say how bad my husband felt to get me a gift that has a crack in it

- , Seffner, FL, USA

problem #731

Feb 102015

Explorer Sport Utility V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles


Rear panel cracked this past winter 2015. Went to Ford dealer which said, this happens a lot, but Ford will not fix this. It will most likely cost $500 or more to fix plus paint.

- , Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #730

Jun 012005

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles

Soon after the first crack and shortly after the vehicle passed the 36K miles original warranty, I visited a Ford dealership and was turned down on the repair indicating it was out of warranty.

- , Davie, FL, USA

problem #729

Jun 152010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Why is there no recall for this issue? I see other vehicles with the same cracks on the rear panel. Seems like a class action suit is necessary.

- , Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #728

Feb 082012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


Just like every other owner of this vehicle, I closed the lift gate one day and it had a long crack going down the right side of the Ford logo. Great job yet again, Ford.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #727

Jan 222011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I bought this truck used in great condition for the miles it had. Then using the tailgate often I saw that a crack was coming out. Then the whole panel next to the FORD logo cracked with the closing and driving of the back door. Ford needs to get these fixed since every 10 Explorers I see, 8 to 9 are cracked. REALLY?

- , Hollywood, FL, USA

problem #726

Jun 062015

Explorer XLS 4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,419 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

Ford should continue to support the cost of the repair with the assistance program. Its an unacceptable customer irritant, that affects quality.

Fix it Ford!

Update from Aug 8, 2015: It cost $450 (Canadian) to fix the defective panel and could happen again, because the panel is poorly designed.

- , Beeton, ON, Canada

problem #725

May 092013

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

I've noticed this same crack in other 2004 Ford Explorers and I'm wondering if its a recall.

- , Woodlawn, MD, USA

problem #724

Jan 052015

Explorer XTL 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 220,000 miles


Ford initially provided a fix now refuses to repair.

- , Sun City, CA, USA

problem #723

Jan 042015

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 202,000 miles

I see these all the f*ing time. My dad owns two Explorers; a white 2005 which my mother bought new, this one is yet to crack but only has 140,000. I bought this Eddie Bauer one from my old substitute teacher/neighbor for $2000 with 200,000 miles on it because everything but the transmission was tip-top. Drove it for literally two months, shut trunk hatch as one unit with normal force and it cracks right along the Ford logo.

My dad owns am auto repair shop and I see these and the Mercury Montaineers roll in with this damage all the time, it's really annoying and makes the car look like crap without any fault of the owner. I really wish Ford would offer some sort of aftermarket fix for this.

- , East Lansing, MI, USA

problem #722

Sep 242011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Panel cracked right by the emblem with the Ford symbol. Now I have two cracks. Called Ford and they said that there was not a recall for it. I would need to repair and pay for it. Strange thing is...Ford also made the Lincoln Aviator same year had the exact same problem and they did do a recall for that. Not cool on Ford. Not happy

- , Gladstone, MO - Missouri, USA

problem #721

Mar 012015

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window

I had heard about this problem and my hatch didn't crack till after this cold winter. But, this is the first winter that this explorer has been kept outside, not garaged. My garaged is under my house and insulated. It never gets below freezing in the garage. I called Ford and asked them if they can help financially with the repairs. They said no.

- , Windsor Locks, CT, USA

problem #720

Jul 032013

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

Body of Explorer looks great except this! Being this is a problem across the board, Ford should make it right or disclose the flaw!

- , Orange Park, FL, USA

problem #719

Jan 012014

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Ford needs to fix this defective part. I'm now seeing cracked Ford Explorers every time I'm driving on the road or pulling into store parking lots. Why should the consumer pay for what is clearly a defective part?????

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #718

Jan 012007


  • 20,000 miles

I am petrified that these two cracks in my rear panel are going to cause harm to me or someone else. I am afraid that when opening or closing of the rear hatch panel the entire glass is going to come crashing down on whoever is there!!!!

This to me seems very dangerous!!!!!!!!!!!

And should have been noticed a very long time ago...I see PLENTY of explorers with the same problem just in my everyday driving. How could this not be seen as a RECALL???????

- , Bronx, NY, USA

problem #717

Sep 012008

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,125 miles

I drive down the road and see Explorer after Explorer with this same problem, yet when I called Ford customer service to complain they stated there was no such issue with the Ford Explorer. They decided to be willfully blind, even though at least 99% of the vehicles have this very same crack across the back of the rear panel, below the glass window. Ford's lack of action in addressing this obvious engineering flaw is ground for a class action lawsuit.

- , Frisco, TX, USA

problem #716

Sep 132008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,523 miles

Ford sucks, this vehicle has had the best of care, always garaged at night, low miles and the back lift gate cracked and the assholes won't fix it. I only buy Dodge for my two companies now. Chevrolet isn't any better. These jerks wonder why the Japanese and European car companies do so well in the US.

- , Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #715

Oct 012014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

Water does leak through the crack. Ford needs to fix this.

- , Blue Island, IL, USA

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